Balloon dilation procedure could help chronic sinus sufferers

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chronic sinus sufferers can now bypass invasive surgery in the hospital and opt for a quick in-and-out procedure in their doctor's office. It's thanks to an innovative procedure called balloon sinus dilation.

Dallas Johnson has suffered chronic sinus infections all his life. Even after three surgeries and taking a low-dose antibiotic for two years, he still had a constant stuffy nose that was taking its toll on him.
"Tired, continuously tired," said Johnson. "Sit down in a chair and go to sleep as soon as you sit down."

Three weeks ago, he tried something new at Mann ENT in Cary -- a procedure called balloon sinus dilation. Since then, he says he's feeling much better, and the surgery itself was a breeze.

"Not a lot of discomfort from it at all, and no pain medication since I left here other than Tylenol," said Johnson.

Dr. Charles Mann explained that basically the name speaks for itself. You insert a balloon up the nose and inflate that balloon to enlarge the sinus openings.

"It's cracking little bones, up to ten atmospheres, and you get a permanent correction," said Mann. "The balloon is inserted for only 10 seconds and removed. Once it's removed you can inspect the area and it's completely open."

Mann said they started doing this back in 2007, but the technology has improved since then. Now, most insurance companies cover it because of the high success rate.

"There have been some excellent studies that have come out, and compares the patients that have balloons versus the patients that have conventional surgery," said Mann, "and the results are equal for sure, and maybe better."

Plus, unlike traditional surgery in the hospital, there's no cutting, no bleeding, and you don't have to be put under to have the procedure done.

Another advantage to the procedure is how fast it is. For example, although it might take 45 minutes for prep time, the actual procedure itself can be as quick as six minutes to tackle six sinuses.

Of course, it isn't for everyone, and shouldn't be used as a first course of action. The procedure is usually for those who have chronic sinus problems that haven't responded to antibiotics and allergy treatments.

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